While The First Tee of Northern Nevada has grown over the years since its inception in 2005, it is looking create an even larger footprint among the nonprofit market.
The nonprofit is one of 205 chapters nationwide. The First Tee program, started in 1997 to teach children across the United States the game of golf while teaching core values and life skills.
“We are in the top five percent of local chapters in the U.S.,” says Chris Dewar, executive director of TFTNN, and a LPGA golf professional.
Dewar also mentioned that the top four finishers in the Nevada High School State Championships were all alumni in The First Tee program. Her assistants at the TFTNN office are also alumni of the program who previously earned golf scholarships.
TFTNN has sometimes battled a misconception that it just a junior golf program. But it stresses the organization’s mission is to not only to teach the game of golf, but to provide them with lifelong core values they can carry the rest of their lives.
Although the organization does work with at-risk youth including partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, it is open to every child between the ages of 7 and 18 in the northern Nevada region are eligible to participate. Even if they do not have the financial means to do so. TFTNN also assists high school kids obtain golf scholarships.
“61 percent of our kids are on financial aid,” says Dewar, “The more kids the more money we need.”
That remain on issue for the organization, trying to find its niche in the donor market with amyriad of other nonprofits in the area.
It has brought in Vic Williams, a veteran golf writer, as director of events to promote its two main fundraising avenues, its annual golf tourney in the summer and a dinner gala in late October. Williams, who still freelances on the sport, was a previous board member on the organization. He also has made several contacts locally and abroad.
It it does, however, have a database of about 8,000 contacts in the northern Nevada area.
Once in the program, children as provided a written life skill lesson tied into learning a golf skill. What comes with each lesson is a core value such as honesty. Dewar says for example they will ask a child what score he/she had after a game and see if they give an honest answer on the score.
There are nine core value that children go through and our assessed at the end of every level. They are: honesty, integrity, sportmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment.
The First Tee also partners with several golf courses in northern Nevada as venues. It has even partnered with The City of Reno and Duncan Golf Management to give life to the troubled Rosewood Lakes Golf Course. It plans to move its office from Delucchi Lane to the course’s pro shop, re-constructing it into a learning center for kids to play golf and receive instruction. It will also give kids an opportunity to socialize or have an area for them to do homework or grab a bite to eat. TFTNN tentatively plans to move in July.
For more information on the program, visit: www.tftnn.org.